The Courage to Deliver
Beyond the Desk and into the South African Coastal Frontier
Barry Armitage, veteran of the Mongol Derby & winner in 2017, woke up one day with a dream.
Imagine yourself: your business outcome is unknown, your wife, or your husband, your family and friends have everything on the line supporting you.
Your dream, your singular burning desire, is to deliver an experience that will transform the DNA of people’s souls. It takes precedence in your life – your peripheral vision is blurred. No other reality exists than the delivery of your concept, your Rockethorse Endurance Race. Your idea given birth, for people to experience what you have lived – and now, embrace the window of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual evolution that is presenting itself to each person who has signed up for the racing adventure of their lives, riders and crew alike.
As business people, most of us just want to run away or hide (and do) when everything is on the line like this, when our backs are against the wall. We want a lifeline, a rescuer, a guarantee that all will be well. Anyone who has ever truly succeeded knows and understands that this is the moment when the magic occurs. The moment of realisation: maybe that pipe dream becomes real at last. Where to commit to moving forward could mean death of the known. Death of our certainty, our attachment to our comfortable, long-held concepts of identity and success and reluctance to moving forward. It could most certainly lead to the deaths of our souls, if we fail. Very few people choose the transformative experience of embracing the call of ‘the idea’ but the individuals that do, they are the ones that experience the magic of living an expanded version of themselves – winning or losing is missing the point.
I recently had the privilege of traveling with my Aussie mates to assist with brand communications and timekeeping for what is now considered the toughest endurance horse race in the world according to Mongol Derby Chief, Kate Willings, who rode in 2018. Why would I do that as a businesswoman? Because to experience magic in all its realms, I strongly believe one must go beyond the usual comfort zones. Race the Wild Coast in South Africa is definitely an epic adventure of Indiana Jones proportions to put on your bucket list – if going beyond the known is important to you – whether you are a rider, crew member, or onlooker.
Make no mistake, this is not a holiday in a tropical paradise. You’ll be fighting off paralysis ticks, pitching more tents than you ever thought possible, placing toilets, building showers, driving miles over rough terrain through well known ‘hot spots’, constructing fencing for the horses, carting hay, carrying heavy vet boxes, standing in belting rain, scorching sun, refuelling generators, loading, feeding and watering horses and whatever else comes to mind or is needed on the day.
It’s brutal, unrelenting, and resplendent all in a single breath.
The constant pounding of the Indian Ocean against sheer black, steep, moistened cliffs juxtaposed with the grace of whales and calves breaching the surface of jewelled waters is something magnificent to behold. Riders positioned atop warrior-like, statuesque, elite and highly trained horses.
Eyes fixed ahead, ready to battle the extremes of the elements; riders face, explore and transcend their own inner fears whilst simultaneously forming a lasting, workable bond with their mounts. Together, rider and mount traverse 350 kilometres through what some may describe as the toughest, most arduous terrain in the world.
Alongside riders and beasts every step of the way is an international cast of characters intricately knitted together as support crew: horse breeders, vets, cooks, race directors, PR company, helicopter pilot, Park Rangers, partners, sponsors, photographers, videographer, a paddler and an ultra marathon specialist.
This professional crew of around 50 people forges itself into a single unit – sometimes with as little notice as 24 hours – with tremendous purpose in this remote and unforgiving environment: ensure the race proceeds without incident while providing as much comfort and support to the riders and horses as possible.
And here’s my point: if Barry Armitage’s idea had never been allowed to be born, over 50 people this year (and every year) would miss some absolutely incredible opportunities: to ‘dig deep’, to bridge cultural divides and norms, to form real and lasting friendships, to connect with the local Xhosa people (enriching our own sense of being with the rhythmic, aliveness of the South African culture). Riders and horses would not have experienced what is possible between (wo)man and beast in such an environment.
And each one of us, in my view, would have missed this amazing Rite of Passage into something bigger than ourselves.
When we sit with the moment, connect to what the Kalahari bushmen call the ‘silent tapping of the heart’, magic truly does happen. And it only happens when we as business people have the ‘Courage to Deliver’.
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